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Week 5 NFL Picks

Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have the Bills offense rolling. An NFC East battle for the ages, kind of. (Photo by AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Due to Covid and potential injury news, three games do not have betting lines listed yet. Will update as they are released because Lord knows you are waiting for my *trump voice* tremendous gambling advice. I got you.

Last Week:     10 – 5 – 0
Season:         36 – 26 – 1

Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)

Buccaneers at Bears
Sorry, Chicago, Nick Foles isn’t the answer at quarterback. At least not the way you’re doing it. If you want to play this right, Matt Nagy must start Mitch Trubisky. If Trubisky is playing well and the offense is clicking; great. If he stinks and the offense is trash; THEN you go to Foles. Foles saves the day, gets you the dub and you do the same thing the next week. That’s the path to the Wildcard, Chicago. You’re welcome. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Buccaneers -4

Dominating Covid (Bye Week)

Packers
I’d love to know why Aaron Jones didn’t see the field for the entire 2nd quarter Monday night. I’m all for not overworking a back, especially this early in the season, but some coaches are too caught up in spreading backfield touches. Jones and Miles Sanders agree with me.

Lions
So Detroit has used two top 45 picks on running backs over the past three drafts and 35 year-old Adrian Peterson is their best option? Do we blame talent evaluators for bad picks or the coaching staff for failing to develop young talent? My guess is another loss will remove Matt Patricia from the equation. D’Andre Swift will then get a lot more touches as the organization tries determine what assets they have.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Panthers at Falcons
If Atlanta is going to save its season (if it’s not already completely lost), this will be the stretch to do it. After this week, the Falcons go @MINN, DET, @CAR, DEN. Nothing short of 4-1 will do. Carolina is no rollover, though. The Panthers play old school, soul sucking, time consuming football. The Cardinals were bullied like toddlers last week. They couldn’t get Carolina off the field. The Panthers won the time of possession battle 37 to 23. After a dismal red zone performance against the Chargers, the Panthers found the end zone on 4 of 5 red zone visits. I’m still not a big Teddy Bridgewater guy, but Carolina may actually be 2020’s version of the 2017 Buffalo Bills. Regardless, I’m going to keep backing the Falcons because I’m an idiot. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -1

Bills at Titans
We’re only a quarter of the way through the season, but Josh Allen’s numbers have improved dramatically over 2019. He’s on pace to throw for 2,000 yards more than he did a year ago. 2,000! His completion percentage has jumped a full 12 points. He’s on pace to attempt 23% more passes than in 2019. At this rate he’ll surpass his 2019 touchdown total before his 8th game, and his interceptions are on pace to be cut in half. Did I mention his QB Rating is 37 points higher, or that his QBR is a whopping 42 points higher? Will he maintain this torrid rate? Probably not, but the improvement is clearly there, and Stefon Diggs deserves a ton of credit. Diggs gives Allen a go-to receiver all young quarterbacks need. Diggs loosens up the defense’s backend, freeing up Allen’s other weapons. Despite the added attention, and without a true number one opposite him like he had in Minnesota, Diggs keeps producing. He’s 8th in the NFL in receptions and first in yards. He’s making big plays as well. Diggs is 9th in in yards per reception among receivers with more than 15 receptions. With all that said, the Bills are due. If this game actually happens, I like the Covid-19 Titans. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line

Raiders at Chiefs
At some point, Clyde Edwards-Helaire will breakout and rush for 150 yards. Until then, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will keep winning without a potent ground attack. No big deal. What’s up with the Raiders? I can’t figure them out. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; Chiefs -11.5

Cardinals at Jets
Kyler Murray eliminated the interceptions in Week 4, but at what cost? Though it was Murray’s first game without an interception this season, his yardage numbers were way down. Murray completed 24 passes for only 133 yards. That’s 4.3 yards per completion. I understand eliminating the interceptions, but neutering the offense to 4.3 yards per completion is probably not the result Kliff Kingsbury was hoping for. Arizona has to find a better balance between Murray protecting the football and making big plays downfield. Whatever that Arizona offense was in Carolina ain’t it. That was ugly. CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals -7.5

Eagles at Steelers
The Eagles are still garbage. However, if their defensive line continues its dominance, then the Eagles have a shot. Want to be depressed? Yeh? Me too. Here we go… Dating back to the 2017 NFL Draft, the Steelers have drafted four wide receivers. In that span, the Eagles drafted seven. Three of Pittsburgh’s receivers were taken in the 2nd round; the other in the 3rd. The Eagles took one in each round except for the 3rd and 7th (they drafted two in the 5th). Here comes the good stuff…

Eagles drafted receivers: 49 receptions, 714 yards, 2 Touchdowns
Steelers drafted receivers: 377 receptions, 5,079 yards, 32 Touchdowns

Two of the Eagles drafted receivers are no longer on the team, one isn’t even in the NFL. Two more appear headed in that direction. The four Pittsburgh draft picks are listed as the top four receivers on the Steelers depth chart. Good job, Howie. Good job. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers -7

Rams at Football Team
I think what Washington is doing to Dwayne Haskins is unfair. I’m disappointed in Ron Rivera. No, Rivera did not draft Haskins in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. However, Rivera did take the job knowing what the organization had invested in Haskins. Four weeks isn’t a large enough sample size to warrant benching a 23 year-old 2nd year player. Is the Football Team a playoff team? No. What Rivera is doing is just plain stupid, especially over the long term. Rivera has 12 more games to find out what Hoskins can do. Give him a chance. He’s a month into a new season with a new offense and new coaches and no offseason to get comfortable. Of course he’s going to struggle. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams -7.5

Bengals at Ravens
Cincinnati finally got its running game off the ground and in a big way. Joe Mixon diced up the Jaguars for 151 yards at 6 yards a pop. Its no coincidence Joe Burrow was only sacked once, the Bengals lowest allowed all season. Baltimore’s defense won’t be so easy to punish on the ground, so the Bengals will hopefully take some precautionary measures to make sure Burrow makes it to Week 6 in one piece. Pay attention to the Bengal receivers this week. They catch a lot of balls in traffic, and it’s easy to see why. Of Cincinnati’s seven receivers, only one is less than 6 foot. Burrow’s top three receivers are Tyler Boyd (6’2), AJ Green (6’4) and Tee Higgins (6’4). There’s some room for error on throws when your targets are that big. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Yet

Jaguars at Texans
Firing Bill O’Brien was necessary despite his overall success in the AFC South. It was also too late. Eliminating O’Brien doesn’t remove the long-term damage he’s done to the roster now and in the future. The Texans will be without a first and second round pick in the 2021 draft. A draft in which they’d own a top 5 pick if the season ended today. O’Brien also jettisoned one of the top 3 receivers in the league for an overpriced running back. Those missteps have caught up to the Texans. Their receiving corps is average, their running game is the worst, and despite trading two first round picks for a left tackle, their pass protection is still dead last in the NFL. Houston is 32nd in sacks allowed and 32nd in sacked percentage. Deshaun Watson is the only good news in Houston, and he may not survive the year. DON’T GIVE COACHES PERSONNEL POWER. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -6

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Dolphins at 49ers
Sunday night was a great night for the Eagles and a rough night for the Zach Ertz camp. George Kittle is what a dominating tight end looks like. On 15 targets, Kittle had 15 receptions, 183 yards and touchdown. When Kittle makes a reception, he turns up field and punishes defenders. Kittle is making about $15 million per year. Travis Kelce is all the same things as Kittle and is making about $14 million per year. Zach Ertz has been a star for the Eagles. It’s not a stretch to say he’s a franchise legend. However, he’s no Kelce or Kittle. Ertz couldn’t beat man-to-man coverage off the line several times Sunday night. The same has been true too often this season. Ertz isn’t running through anyone or going for big gains after the catch, either. Ertz is great and deserves a fair contract, but anything in the Kelce or Kittle range is a little silly at this point in his career. The film doesn’t lie. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins +9.5

Colts at Browns
Raise your hand if you’ve watched more than a snap of the Indianapolis Colts this year. I can’t say I blame you. I’ve watched every game and man are they a very solid, yet painfully boring team. They’ve even managed to neuter the Philip Rivers roller coaster. Where’s the fun in that? Rivers’ completion percentage is way up but his production numbers (yards, TDs) are way down. While that’s good for the Colts it’s not the greatest for entertainment value. Speaking of entertainment value, Kevin Stefanski is pressing all the right buttons in Cleveland. Pounding the ground game and finding ways to get OBJ the ball in space has elevated the Browns offense toward the top of the NFL. He’s also done so with middling quarterback play. Is this just who Baker Mayfield is? His commercials are so good. He’s gotta do better on the field. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -1

Giants at Cowboys
It’s a matchup made in heaven. The Giants are the league’s last place offense (both scoring and yards). The Cowboys are the league’s 30th ranked defense in yards allowed per game and 32nd in points against by a full 2 points. What gives Sunday? Do the Giants finally make it to 17 points, or do the Cowboys make a few stops and give up less than 38 points for the first time in a month?!?! Feel the excitement. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys -9

Broncos at Patriots
I heard a great point this week and I can’t remember where I first heard it, but here it is… If your star QB gets Covid and can’t play, it’s actually better for the team to have a full on breakout, right? The Titans had a breakout and couldn’t play. Instead of facing Pittsburgh with a bunch of pieces missing, they postponed the game. Conversely, New England was forced to insert a backup QB on short notice and play the Chiefs. Now, we don’t know what kind of NFL repercussions come along with a team breakout, but for now, a breakout is more advantageous to a team than a single Covid case to an impact player. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Yet

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Vikings at Seahawks
Minnesota’s best offense is Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. Over the last two weeks, the Vikings have averaged 36.5 rushing attempts per game. In the two weeks prior, they averaged 20 rushing attempts. I don’t think there’s any coincidence the Vikings were a choke job away from beating the Titans in Week 3 and controlled the Texans in Week 4. Keep the ball on the ground and keep the offense off Kirk Cousins’ shoulders. [There are currently eight games with a line of 7 or more. There’s going to be at least one upset. I’m going with this one.] VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings +7

Monday Night (8:15PM ET)

Chargers at Saints
For any coach that shies away from being aggressive at the end of the half, I’d encourage you to watch the last 45 seconds of the 1st half in Tampa Bay last week. The Chargers forced a Buccaneers punt and were starting their possession at their own nine. The Chargers opted to take their 24-7 lead into the half. They would receive the ball to start the 3rd quarter. Instead, disaster struck. Joshua Kelley fumbled, the Buccaneers scored and their lead shrunk to 10. Despite an entire half left to play, it felt like that mistake swung the game. I’m not criticizing the conservative call. I would have done the same, but often the excuse for not being aggressive is that things can go bad. Well, things go bad even when you’re not aggressive. Also, Justin Herbert has an NFL arm. Holy smokes. I was not a fan after his last season at Oregon. Oops. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers +8

*****

If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week:  6 – 7 – 2
Season:       28 – 32 – 3

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